The Confederate flag hasn't flown regularly at the Missouri statehouse or on government property for more than a decade. A Missouri wanted it to stay that way.
State Representative Joshua Peters announced that he planned to sponsor a bill to ban the Confederate Battle Flag, also known as the "Stars and Bars," from being displayed on state and government-funded structures and grounds, according to CBS St. Louis
The impetus for the legislation is because it's not expressly forbidden, and Peters wants to eliminate the possibility of displaying a symbol of what he called oppression, hatred and racial intolerance.
"Just one year ago, Sons of Confederate Veterans met with members of the Missouri General Assembly to lobby in favor of having the Confederate Battle Flag flown permanently at the Confederate Memorial Historic Site in Higginsville, Missouri," Peters told CBS. "This site is maintained by the state."
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The intense controversy over the Confederate flag arose after a white 21-year-old man killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina. A photo on the gunman depicted him with the Stars and Bars over his shoulder.
Shortly after the tragedy, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds.
In 2003, Missouri's then-Gov. Bob Holden signed an executive order to remove the flag, but his successor, Matt Blunt, ordered it to be flown at the site on Confederate Memorial Day, CBS reported.
Not everyone in Missouri feels that the flag stands for racism, and is merely a way of celebrated their Southern heritage. Anna Robb and her husband run "Dixie Outfitters," a store that sells Confederate flag-adorned clothing and memorabilia. She told the Springfield News-Leader
that sales have been booming amid the controversy.
"It has nothing to do with slavery, which the media always want to bring in," she told the paper.
The Springfield branch NAACP President Cheryl Clay, explained in a later News-Leader story that the flag is rooted in racism.
"It represents a horrible period in our nation's history," Clay told the News-Leader
. "The flag represents the state of South Carolina seceding from the U.S. What is heritage about that? That they would rather leave a nation so they could keep people enslaved? That has nothing to do with heritage. It has everything to do with cultural ideology of slavery."
National retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc,, Sears, Amazon.com and eBay have announced bans on Confederate flag products in the wake of the controversy, according to CNN
For his part, Peters is only taking issue with the flag as a state-sponsored symbol. It has its place in a museum, and the decision to fly it on state grounds shouldn't be left up to the individual governor.
"The Union won the war. The conversation is moot, and for us to continue to allow a Confederate battle flag to continue to be flown over a state-funded site is really unconscionable in today's time," Peters told KSDK-TV
A month before the South Carolina tragedy, Missouri agreed to be one of 12 states to participate in a Confederate flag burning and burial ceremony, as part of a movement by Sarasota, Florida, artist John Sims. The event had been scheduled for Memorial Day, according to the Orlando Sentinel
"We are in America, and people have the right to fly whatever flag [they want]," Sims told the paper, and also created a Facebook page for the project
. "And I have the right to bury whatever flag, and to burn whatever flag."
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